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Old 11-05-2008, 09:32 AM   #1
Red's 99
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Default Block heaters and diff pins

Hi guys,

I have 2 questions this morning...

1. I live in Iowa where it gets a little cold in the winter. I'm considering getting a magnetic block heater to put on the oil pan on the cold winter nights. Does this sound okay to do? Would this have any adverse affects on anything?

2. My car is a 1999 SL2 with a 5 speed MT and has 125,000 miles. I've been hearing horror stories about the cars throwing diff. pins. Could anyone tell me exactly what this is, and is it very common? Do I need to worry about it? Should I get the pin welded before it breaks? What should one do really? I love this car and don't like the idea of getting stranded somewhere in the winter. Any info is greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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Old 11-05-2008, 10:28 AM   #2
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Default Re: Block heaters and diff pins

The magnetic pan heaters tend to operate over 250 degrees and this high temperature will break down and carbonize the oil. You will be better off with the Saturn block heater. If you can find one of the pan heaters that operates at 200 degrees or so it will work but good luck finding one.

Check the how to library first post for the richpin video on checking the pin. First check to see if its loose. If loose then it needs fixing.
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Old 11-05-2008, 10:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: Block heaters and diff pins

I've used the magnetic heaters before and they work pretty good. Use it with a timer so it doesn't get too hot. When it's -30 out I don't think the oil will reach +250 within a couple hours.

I followed Richpin's method to check the diff pin on my SW1 and it was fine. Just avoid spinning the wheels excessively. If it ever does blow just weld it on the replacement transmission. I don't think it's worth pulling the transmission out on the off chance it might fail. I'd only pull it out if I planned on racing it.
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Old 11-05-2008, 11:14 PM   #4
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Default Re: Block heaters and diff pins

The face of the heater is what you are interested in as the metal on the other side of that face will be at almost the same temperature. The heat transfer through the oil is not instantaneous and at the point of heat application temperature in excess of 250 are quite common. Get a steel pan, dump in a quart of oil and apply the heater. measure temperature. Some are better than others.

Its not the spinning of the wheels that cuts the roll pin its differential action that results in rotation of the pinion gears. If you cause the pinions to rotate at a sufficient speed and with a high enough loading the ATF film strength fails and the pinion welds to the diff pin. This cuts the roll pin and sets you up for ejection. Synthetic ATF helps prevent tis and something like Torque-Drive buys you a bit more margin.

There is differential action every time you are not going in a straight line.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: Block heaters and diff pins

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Get a steel pan, dump in a quart of oil and apply the heater. measure temperature. Some are better than others.
A better measure would be to dump in four quarts, as that's what would be in the sump of your engine. The volume of oil and the amount of heat energy it absorbs is a factor.
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Old 11-06-2008, 01:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Block heaters and diff pins

Yes, but the cooking happens right where the heat meets the oil. I have seen nice little carbon donuts in the bottom of pans that were heated with those heaters.

Someone makes one that runs at a lower temperature and does not fry the oil.
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